The Archelon society for the protection of the engendered loggerhead turtle on Wednesday said that the hatching season has started and advised beachgoers to exercise caution when visiting nesting sites.
Archelon said that the first traces of newly hatched Caretta-caretta turtles were spotted by volunteers on Sekani beach on the Ionian island of Zakynthos on July 21, marking the start of the season. The same nest continued to produce baby turtles over the next few days, the organization said.
The organization advised beachgoers that they must not interfere with the baby turtles when they emerge from their nests, as those first few minutes of their lives are instrumental for the hatchlings to return later to the exact same location to build their own nests. Only one in 1,000 baby Caretta-caretta survives the first few days from hatching, Archelon said, urging citizens not to endanger the sensitive animals any further.
“In the event that you do see turtles hatching during the day, the only way you should help is by brushing the hot sand away from their path to the sea and holding some form of shade over it to protect them from the sun,” Archelon advised in an announcement on Wednesday. “It is very important that you don’t wet them, because any contact with water may make them believe they are already in the sea. Also, do not attempt to lift them or touch them, as that first race to the sea is important for them to strengthen their flippers so they can swim.”
The southern coast of Zakynthos is Greece’s biggest Caretta-caretta nesting site but nests are also found in other parts of the island, as well as in Messinia in the southwest Peloponnese and in Crete.